neat. At home, I’m still a drip-grind plebian, though. cheapest beans–but whole and arabica only, though; I have some standards–and a whirlybird grinder or however it’s called. the cheap one. I like coffee, but I can’t really justify the expense of real-deal stuff for home use.
BUT I used to work at a semi-upscale joint with an espresso machine and the european management always had me specifically make their cappuccinos 'cause they knew I didn’t fuck around when it came to doing it right. So these things do appeal to me when the proper materials are available.
I’m wondering if you could get a similar effect just running whole grain rice or wheat thru the burrs, though?
You can buy a pound of rice for ~$1-1.50, and do the same thing, and save $27.
People who make espresso at home tend not to be very price sensitive. When you’ve bought a $1500+ espresso machine, spent $500+ on a grinder, and go through $15-$20 of coffee every week, what’s another $27 every 6 months?
I’m pretty price sensitive: I have a Gaggia classic (it’s old school, built like a tank and you service it yourself - it’s a bit under 10 years old) and a Rancilio grinder (which cost more than the coffee machine) and rice is the recommended cleaner for the grinder. I’d need a reason to go for something else. Not saying I wouldn’t, but I’d take convincing.
I would recommend a Gaggia classic if you want a really cheap espresso maker: they go for nothing second hand from people that haven’t looked after them. Buy some decent descaler, maybe fit a new gasket c.€10 and you are good to go for many years. If the tank or engine go they are not massively expensive.
Oh, and I would spend a bit more on the descaler, the usual brands at the supermarket don’t really cut it, this I know from experience.
Post for replacement parts can be a problem if you don’t live in a major territory. But I notice some non traditional retail outlets selling parts online now (Adverts in Ireland, probably on Craigslist in other places).
Would just dropping in some rice work for people who use a coffee grinder for spices?
Or you could just, you know, clean it. Whenever I get a new bag of beans, before any goes into the grinder, I take the hopper and gasket out of mine and wash them in the sink, and I use a stiff brush plus blowing on the metal burrs and chute and corners where particles collect. Rice and/or patsy pellets may work too, but then I’d worry about having to wash the dust from them out.
Also, wait a sec. You mean you’ve never cleaned your grinder before, like, ever? I think I’ll pass on coffee at your house. Coffee beans contain oils, and oils go rancid. That’s what you’re tasting. Gross.
I’m distracted by the URNEX brand name on the pee-pee yellow bottle.
I just use a chunk of bread- I always have a loaf-end from my sourdough that’s a bit crusty, and I find it works as well as rice (I’ve never tried a commercial product) at getting the oils off of the burrs. The rest I just wash. I’m relatively price-conscious, especially since after buying my grinder (baratza virtuoso) I was informed that I had used up my coffee-gadget budget for a while.
For descaling, I recommend citric acid. You can get it in the canning section of your grocery store. It works better than anything else that I’ve tried and it just happens to be very inexpensive.
I started out with a Gaggia Classic and with a good enough grinder, it can work well. The problem with machines in that category (including the Rancilio Silvia) is that it’s hard to be consistent (that Rocky grinder doesn’t help much). That’s why people eventually spend stupid amounts of money on double boiler or heat exchanger machines and a better grinder.
As someone who repairs coffee equipment for a living, I remain skeptical of Grindz. If it’s easy enough to get into your burr chamber, just clean it out with a vacuum and a dry towel. Water shouldn’t enter into the equation. Additionally, if you vacuum out the grinder through the hopper every day or so (which takes about two seconds), you shouldn’t have the sort of buildup that will affect the taste or grind consistency of your coffee for a long time.
If you still have grind inconsistency issues after a good cleaning, it may be time for a new set of burrs. In fact, you could replace your burrs (depending on the grinder of course) for the same price as several bottles of Grindz.
Haha! I went there too!
Check out this (dated) guide to home espresso machines. I’ve heard good things about the Breville, but I haven’t tried it. In my limited experience with home espresso machines, buying used or overstock (ie. sitting in a warehouse for years) leads to costly repairs that you could have spent on a better new machine. Of course some people, myself included, enjoy the challenge of a fixer upper.
White or Brown rice does the same thing and it’s likely in your kitchen already.
First, blade grinders are pretty much useless for espresso, but even if I were using a blade grinder, they are inexpensive enough that I would get a dedicated one for coffee and one for spices.
Baratza (a maker of excellent grinders) specifically warn against using rice and suggest using something like Grindz.
A note on cleaning with rice: Some folks recommend using rice as a grinder cleaner in place of a grinder cleaner like Grindz. We admit, we’ve tried it ourselves as well and found rice to be fairly effective. However, there are a few potential problems with using rice. The first is hardness. Rice can be quite a bit harder than your average coffee bean, which can stress the motor and burrs more than the beans they were designed for. Starch is also an issue. The powdery loose starch on uncooked grains of rice can gum up your grinder parts over time. Quick-cook dry rice, being less dense and relatively starch-free, avoids both problems, but may still be inadvisable as it is not covered by most manufacturer warranties. Baratza, for example, has noted that they don’t cover damage caused by the use of rice and only recommend using Full Circle or Grindz pellets. If you do decide to use rice, we suggest using the quick-cook variety (and doing so at your own risk), but we’d recommend just going in with a brush if you’d rather not buy grinder cleaner.
Thanks for the tips! Also, as a coeliac with a family of coeliacs, the wheat element of this cleaner just isn’t worth taking the risk with. It may not have any impact, but it’s not worth the risk.
Unrelated I know but it really is a collosal pain in the fucking hole that every fucking thing has to be checked.
I have a Breville (and man!, I didn’t pay close to $1K for it). I also have a Breville ‘smart’ grinder - mostly because it has an attachment to grind the coffee directly into the portafilter. I’m happy with the resulting, very consistent espresso. I have to say I do roast my own beans.
For a while, my Breville was getting very, very noisy (a faulty solenoid) and I considered getting a classic, expensive, La Pavoni espresso machine. But the reviews hinted at the fact that they’re finicky and needed regular parts replacement.
I opted to just repair my machine myself (I work on equipment that’s a lot more complicated than espresso machines). That review is wrong: Brevilles are easy-ish to repair.
Arabica only? You’re missing some really nice robusta flavors, and they’re especially used in espresso blends.
I had a Black&Decker burr grinder for a while. It did a pretty good job, but it exploded itself last year, they’ve stopped making it, and almost all of the burr grinders I’ve seen since then have been over $100 (the B&D was $30-40), but also they’re almost all made for putting in a half-pound of more of beans; that’s fine for your espresso shop, but I’m normally making a cup or two of coffee at a time, different varieties depending on what mood I’m in, and they also want 3-4 times as much counter space. For now I’m using a hand-cranked burr grinder for press coffee, and occasionally using the old cheap chopper for espresso. (The chopper’s inconsistent, and coffee sticks in the bottom, especially Vietnamese coffee which is what I usually use for espresso.)
My old low/medium-end steam-powered espresso machine doesn’t work any more; descaling got the coffee part usually working but not the milk-steamer, and I usually use Aeropress instead. (My current glass-top stove doesn’t work right for the traditional exploding moka pot.)
Part of Breville’s reputation stems from their maintenance policies. For example, when the BDB (double boiler) machine first came out, they were criticized a lot for recommending that customers send their machines in to be descaled. In any serious machine, descaling is absolutely done by end users.
I have two machines listed in that guide. A PID-equipped version of the Rancilio Silvia w/ Rocky grinder up at the weekend camp where I have time to fuss with the machine and for workdays I have the Breville double-boiler with integrated grinder and doser.
Both are fantastic. The Breville version with the integrated grinder/doser is fantastic for making even complicated espresso drinks and getting out the door fast. The Rancillio is also great but takes more time to set up and clean and the PID controller makes me constantly fiddle with the settings, heh.
Bought both w/ warranties from Seattle Coffee Works due to the impressive nature of their youtube howto and product exploration videos. Great folks